A reader recently wrote asking the following question. If you have an idea you'd like to add please join in.
Dear My Canine Coach
My husband and I want to adopt a rescue dog. We will be first time dog owners and want to make sure we get the right dog for us. Can you tell us what we should consider when choosing?
I’m so glad you asked. Many people, when looking for a pet, are just bowled over by the “cute factor” and don’t give any thought about the nature and needs of the breed. Some are very lucky and the dog turns out to be just what they wanted. Others are not so lucky and end up frustrated and unhappy. Unfortunately, many of those people end up giving the dog away or surrendering the dog to a shelter.
Kudos to you for wanting to know what to consider. The responsibility you are about to undertake requires a 10- 15 year commitment, so you definitely want to make the right choice.
*Exercise requirements- If you get a high energy dog that requires a lot of exercise you have to be able to fulfill those needs. So, if you’re an action family that likes to go hiking, swimming, take long daily walks, or, if you have a large fenced in yard where you can play fetch, then by all means consider a dog that is high energy and requires lots of exercise. If however, you’re more of a couch potato, like to stay home a lot, or if you consider once around the block your daily exercise, then a less energetic dog who is satisfied with a daily walk or two would be a better choice for you.
*Household size – Some dogs fare well in an apartment [both large and small dogs] but some dogs need to have access to a lot of space and a fenced in yard. Some dogs like to have many people around them while others prefer to have just one or two kind, quiet and gentle leaders in the house.
*Lifestyle – Do you have the necessary time needed to bring a dog into your life? Do you work full time or are you retired? How much time will you be able to devote to your dog each day? Do you have children? Are your children young or older? Are you always dashing from here to there or do you lead a leisurely life. Do you frequently have guests over? Do you travel? If so, would you be taking the dog with you, or do you have someone trustworthy that could care for the dog while you’re away. These are all essential things to take into consideration.
*Climate – Some dogs are not affected very much by climate but if you live in areas with extreme temperatures you’ll need to consider whether or not the pooch will be comfortable. If you live in Florida for instance, a Siberian Husky would not be your best choice, and if you live in Alaska, a Hairless Chinese Crested dog would probably be miserable.
* Cost - Unfortunately a lot of dogs are being surrendered these days because their families just cannot afford their upkeep. Try to get a realistic idea of what the yearly cost will be of owning the type of dog you’re interested in. Remember to take into account grooming needs, food, toys, and training. Include the cost of average yearly vet visits [when there is no illness], and boarding, if you travel. Ask pet professionals, ask a veterinarian, and ask friends, neighbors and family members who have dogs.
*Pick of the litter – Once you have decided the breed you like, whether it is a pure bred champion, a happy tail wagging shelter dog, or a high end designer dog, you’ll need to know what to look for specifically when you are at the breeder or the shelter. This is a topic for another day.
There are so many things to consider and these are just a few. Narrow it down to a few breeds that you think would be a good fit for you and your family. Then research, read, and think it out before you go looking at all those cute faces. Once you’ve done your homework you can begin to look for that one perfect pooch that will be your best friend and loyal companion for many years to come.
BTW – If this seems a bit overwhelming there are some pet professionals like myself that will see you through your new dog journey from start to finish. For example, I will help you figure out what type of dog suits you best and will come with you to the breeder, rescue group, or shelter to meet the dogs and help you choose. I will be there for the homecoming and make sure you get set-up properly for the new family member such as puppy proofing, crating, and housetraining. I can help you choose toys, food and treats so that you’re prepared with what you do need and don’t end up with a lot of things you don’t. I can recommend a veterinarian and as soon as your new addition is ready I will help you train him. I will make it my mission to ensure that you and your dog will have a wonderful and happy life together.
I hope this helps, please let me know if you have any other questions and what you have decided on.
Happy Tails to you
Coach Sheryl Furman, ABC Certified Dog Trainer